All you guys, we didn't start this but we are going to keep this alive.
Last Wednesday I went to Town, Town is what we like to call South Bombay. It was the longest drive ever - literally and figuratively. I had planned to meet a darling friend and her mum and also wanted to go to the peace march. A close friend didn't want me to go, his point was that there are other ways to help ... still on my way I had thought that I will go to Gateway, what he doesn't know can't hurt him (or me). There are things you need to do for yourself, this just seemed like one of them.
I was scared, I just wasn't sure how I would feel going back to the streets and places which for me are Bombay. I live in the suburbs in a very well-planned township which is cosmopolitan, has all the conveniences and joys which most parts of Bombay cannot afford like open spaces, parks, malls, movie halls, restaurants, nice looking buildings, minimum filth etc. - everything within a 5 min. walk radius. For living, this is the kind of place I would like to live in but this township could have been in any part of India. For me its the colonial structures, the oval maidan, the marine drive, the arched corridors at Fort, the painters at Kala Ghoda, the bustle at causeway ... these are what make it Bombay. The years that I have been here in this city, I have spent numerous days walking about and absorbing the feel of the place and they just keep me coming back. Even the book sellers who aren't there any more, Churchill, Jimmy Boy, NCPA, Rhythm House ... they all are such a part of this city for me that I was scared for what I will feel when I go back this time.
I did feel that heavy sadness which just settles on you, I felt the anger at the thought of these madmen roaming the streets of my city, I felt the sting of tears . But it was some other feeling that took over very soon. I saw the sea of humanity surging towards Gateway, I saw people of all ages, people from different walks of life, people with laptops and people with children, people in groups and people walking alone, people with banners, our flags - they filled the very streets where the terrorists had roamed less than a week back. With rumors still rife it may not have been the safest thing to have over 2 lakh people gather in a not so large space but it did not seem to matter. I was stuck in the traffic for almost two hours and even those who tried to walk it were a part of a pedestrian jam and never reached till Gateway, it hardly mattered though. I have to say that I have never seen or felt anything like it - that traffic snarl and that logistical nightmare was the nicest thing that happened to me after those days.
The movie Halla Bol has this dialogue which I completely love, Pankaj Kapoor (playing Siddhu) says ... Apne Jism pe chot lagne pe to janwar bhi rota hai, insaan wo hai to doosre ki chot mehsoos kar sake - Even an animal cries when there's a wound on its body, a human is one who can feel someone else's wounds.
Sometimes you just need to know that people are affected, that they will walk to a crowded Gateway to speak up - even if that's the only thing they do, that you live in a world where 'everything doesn't go'.